- The Washington Times - Monday, May 5, 2014

Celebrities such as Ellen DeGeneres and Virgin Group founder Richard Branson are boycotting a hotel chain linked to Brunei’s sultan after he introduced a code of Islamic law that includes death by stoning.

Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, who serves as Brunei’s Prime Minister, announced Wednesday that the country’s transition to Shariah law has started. The initial phase introduces punishments for lesser offenses such as failure to attend Friday prayers and indecent behavior.

A second phase is to start later this year that will introduce dismemberment and flogging for crimes such as theft and robbery. Death by stoning will be introduced late next year for greater offenses such as sodomy and adultery, Agence France-Presse reported.

Mr. Branson declared that Virgin employees would boycott the Dorchester Collection luxury hotel chain, which includes the Dorchester in London and the Beverly Hills Hotel in Los Angeles. The chain is reportedly owned by the Brunei Investment Agency, a sovereign wealth fund under the nation’s Ministry of Finance.

“No employee, nor our family, will stay at Dorchester Hotels until the Sultan abides by basic human rights,” Mr. Branson tweeted Saturday.

Others who have called for a boycott include comedian Stephen Fry, TV host Sharon Osbourne and Ms. DeGeneres.

“I won’t be visiting the Hotel Bel-Air or the Beverly Hills Hotel until this is resolved,” Ms. DeGeneres tweeted April 22.

The U.S. group Feminist Majority Foundation also pulled its annual Global Women’s Rights Awards from the Beverly Hills Hotel, AFP reported.